Be honest now – at some point today, you’ll probably look at your body and think “Ugh.”
Practicing positive body habits takes resolve when we’re living in a world that’s constantly telling us that we shouldn’t love our bodies just the way they are.
97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment. The average number of negative body thoughts a woman endures on a daily basis? 13!
So, not surprisingly, this negativity is trickling down to the next generation – our daughters, nieces, young women everywhere. When preschoolers are engaging in negative body talk, then you know the issue is all too real.
We know that ideas and habits are formed young, and those models of behavior last a lifetime. Body-related talk is no different. So let’s all nip this in the bud now.
That said, here are seven positive body mantras you can teach your daughter – and use for yourself – today:
1. Happiness Isn’t Size-Specific
Curvy, thin, athletic, soft, round – happiness is the new black and fits all shapes and sizes.
True happiness has very little to do with what you look like and everything to do with who you are (or will become when you grow up). Understanding this early in life avoids any rewiring efforts later on.
2. All Bodies are Good Bodies
You’re getting right to the heart of the matter here – cultural messaging dictates that a person’s value is based on their appearance.
That kind of messaging makes for an unhappy society and makes it all too easy for women to hate on themselves. Using this phrase removes the “right” vs. “wrong” look and helps you shut down the notion that some bodies are better than others.
3. Your Body is an Instrument, Not an Ornament
When your daughter realizes that our bodies were meant to do, not just be, then she can stop thinking of herself in a cosmetic way and embrace all the amazing things her body actually does.
Want to run track? Why not? Jump in a puddle? Of course! Kick a soccer ball, paint a masterpiece, bake a cake…all things her body was meant to do. Looking a certain way or fitting into an ideal isn’t – she’s not a Christmas tree ornament!
4. Being Pretty Is Not Your Job
While it’s important to make our girls feel valued, we need to find ways to praise them without subscribing to the currency of female beauty.
Of course, our kids ARE adorable but that’s not the only thing they should hear from you. I regularly praise my daughter for her sense of humor, her intelligence and her kindness.
5. Clothes Don’t Have to be Flattering
There are some F-words I love and some I absolutely loathe.
The notion that we need to dress in ‘flattering’ clothing to solve the problem of our body shape is just crazy. Sure, we all want to feel confident in our clothing but when we use this word it implies that people are imperfect.
There are other ways to compliment an outfit, so next time you go to use the F-word, swap it out with something else.
6. Exercise for How You Feel, Not How You Look
I’ve personally dealt with my fair share of negative body talk and have always lamented about exercise.
Going through the yo-yos of weight loss, my mindset was that I had to do it if I wanted to be thin. Now I think about how I feel after a yoga session or a nice long walk. Keep the exercise conversation body positive by reinforcing how great our bodies feel, instead of how they look.
7. Everything Begins with a Kind Heart
My daughter picks up so many social cues from me.
All daughters do, don’t they? When I’m feeling frumpy, I notice she starts to feel frumpy too.
Being negative about our appearance or judging someone else’s endorses the idea that judging bodies is okay. Silence your inner mean girl and teach your daughter to do the same.
Being a mom to a girl has made me all too self-aware of the self-deprecation and negative body talk I imposed on myself.
One of the best things we can do for our daughters is give them the tools to swiftly navigate through the daily onslaught of body critical messages she’ll probably receive. With any luck, by the time our girls grow up, the world could be singing a very different tune when it comes to body image.
Over to you – how do you instill a positive body image in your daughter?